SAGU hosts #8 Westmont on Sat.
Holiday weekend includes two games
Jarvis Christian vs Westmont on Friday night
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A week known for college basketball tournaments in exotic locations, Southwestern Assemblies of God University will host a pair of games during the Thanksgiving break.
#26 ranked SAGU (4-0) will entertain Westmont College at 5:00pm (CST) on Saturday. The Warriors, from Santa Barbara, California, were ranked #8 in the NAIA’s Top 25 Pre-Season Coaches Poll.
The teams have backed up their billing with their early season play, making the game a litmus test for both.
Westmont was seeking a game in the metroplex, according to Lions' Head Coach Donnie Bostwick.
“They have a senior player who is from the area,” he explained. “Plus, we were having trouble booking home games and thought the game would be a good non-conference challenge.”
The Warriors are from one of the premier conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Concordia University (Irvine, Cal), who won the national title a year ago, like Westmont, is a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference. CUI went 31-7 while Westmont was 19-9.
“They have great tradition and a top notch coach,” Bostwick said. “They have a strong group of seasoned seniors and juniors who are primed to make a run at the post-season this season.”
Preston Branson, a 6-foot-3 guard, is the reigning Most Valuable Player in the GSAC. He is former standout at Trinity Christian School, located in the North Dallas suburb of Addison.
Playing for head coach John Moore, Branson scored 17.4 points per game. His former Trinity Christian coach, Randy Feemster, frequented SAGU games last year while his son, 6’5 Caleb, played for the Lions.
“Branson is an All-American player,” Coach Bostwick acknowledges. “He is very consistent, averages over 17 ppg, and is a great leader for Westmont.”
The Warriors were known for their radar-range shooting touch last season.
They led the nation in free throws accuracy (.743), were seventh in field goal percentage (.485) and 15th from beyond the arc (.370), though they made just 5.9 threes per contest. They scored at a 73.1 points per game clip.
The Warriors also excelled on the defensive end, yielding 67.5 ppg, 35th in the NAIA.
Six of their nine setbacks were by seven-points or less. Three losses came against Azusa Pacific University, who has since moved to Division II in the NCAA.
C.J. Miller, a 6’7 junior forward, is second in scoring (16.8), and has range from the edge. His baseline partner, Cooper Damron, nets 11.5. They grab 6.8 rebounds apiece.
A pair of tall guards, Mantas Drungys, at 6’4, and 6’5 senior Jordan Sachs, are point producers. Drungys (DRUHN-gees), from London, comes off the bench for 10.8 ppg; while Sachs (SAKS) has contributed nine points, 16-of-18 free throws and has an 18-6 assist to turnover ratio.
Four of their key substitutes make at least half of their shots.
Southwestern played two GCAC teams during the National Christian College (NCCAA) Nationals tournament in Indiana in March; Hope International (currently 5-0) and Master’s College (5-1), defeating them both.
The Lions have three players scoring in double-digits; Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) at 16.8, James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) 13.4, and Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) 12.6.
Rambo, a junior point guard, sports a 26-10 assist-turnover margin and leads the Red River Athletic Conference with 19 steals. Nwelue (like DWELL-way) has latched onto 9.4 caroms per outing.
Ford, the club leader in triples, is expected to miss the game for personal reasons (funeral) according to Bostwick. “We were already going to be shorthanded,” he explained, “so we will need other guys to step up.”
The Lions return to the court next week when they play two of three games at the Sheaffer Center. On Monday they entertain Arlington Baptist College before traveling to Austin on Thursday to meet Huston-Tillotson University.
Next Saturday, December 1, SAGU welcomes Jarvis for a 4:00pm matinee.
Turkey Jam Opener: Jarvis vs Westmont, Friday
On Friday, November 23, Westmont will take on Jarvis Christian College (1-3), who are also in the RRAC. That game will tip-off at 7:30pm (CST).
Jarvis has dropped a pair of close road decisions to Xavier University (La), 75-71, and to St. Thomas (Tx), 79-71. The Gold Rush (6-1) is nationally ranked (#19) while the Celts are 4-1.
The Bulldogs other defeat came at the hands of Stephen F. Austin State University, from the NCAA’s Division I.
Roman Walker is a 6-foot-4 guard and the top ‘dog with a 15.0 ppg avg. He is supported by 6’5 senior Marcus O’Key, who buckets 10.7 per contest.
Under veteran head coach Keith McKinnon, the Bulldogs are particularly tough on opposing perimeter shooters, who have connected on just 23% from long distance.
Jarvis thumped Spring Hill College (Ala) 94-87, in a tournament in New Orleans. The Bulldogs won despite being outrebounded, 34-31, and forcing only 10 turnovers.
They hit 62% of their shots, including 13 three-balls, and led at the break, 54-47. Bronx native, Chris Davis, a 6’2 guard, led five players in double figures with 25 points. Walker and O’Key had 18 and 15 respectively.
McKinnon had 13 players get multiple minutes of court time.
SAGU Sports Live begins broadcasting in January
All home games, men and women, will be aired by SAGU Sports Live starting in January. They have aired football, volleyball and soccer during the fall before breaking for November and December.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University remains the only school in the NAIA who livestreams their games in authentic high definition. The production, with over 80% of the crew comprised of students, is available at no expense to viewers.
This is their fourth year of serving the university and SAGU athletics.
Home games are usually available for fans in a webcast of LiveStats. An official decision on this service for the Turkey Jam games has not been announced.
Check the Red River Athletic Conference website for access should the service be activated. Click in the left column under Men's Basketball, then the right column under Scoreboard. Locate the game of choice and click on Live Stats if posted.